Talking Shop With J. Elizabeth Hill

Today is a special day at Kayla Dawn Writes.  I have author, J. Elizabeth Hill, here with me to talk about her writing journey.

Hi, Julie! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.

Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here. I always love to talk about writing, almost as much as I love writing.

So far you have one published novel and another just days
away from release. What got you started down this road?

I’ve always been a huge reader. As a child I played make believe endlessly. It was an easy step in many ways to start writing it down. I didn’t think much of it though until I was 16. My 11th grade teacher had us write a short story for class. After that, I was hooked. All I wanted to do was write. A couple of years ago, I decided to get serious, to treat it like a job. I’ve been pretty successful at finishing stuff and growing as a writer since.

Your worlds are very unique. Where do you get your ideas?

They usually start as a small thing, a little spark of something. With Bound, it was the idea of something like twins, someone who was the other half of you, but with magic. They all start small like that and then I explore them. As I do so, I try to avoid the things I’ve seen a lot of or the easy route. I’m always looking for a way to make it my own. I also want to make the world I’m writing that story in the only place that story could happen. For me, the story flows out of the world and the world serves the needs of the story. It sounds a bit circular, I know, but really, the world and the story are kind of co-dependent.

You have chosen to self-publish your work. How did you make that decision?

A lot of reasons, but the big one has to do with how much and how fast I write. My first full year of writing after I got serious, I completed five novels plus half of a sixth, one novella and four or five short stories. While some of those novels are still in revisions, they’ve pretty much all been progressed to some extent. On top of that, I was also developing a number of story projects (pretty much all trilogies). I keep myself pretty busy. My concern at the time was that, even if I slowed down a little, I’d still be going pretty fast and I didn’t think I’d be able to publish that much in a year through a traditional publisher. Being able to publish what I want when I think it’s ready was a huge upside to self-publishing for me. I also like having control over the cover and who I hire for things like editing.

Do you have any words of wisdom for those considering
self-publishing?

Be realistic in your expectations. The number of debuts that hit it big is relatively small. Remember that you get out of it what you put into it. That doesn’t mean spam the crap out of everyone, but it does mean that if you put it out there with no build up before hand and no real effort spent getting the word out after the book is published, you’re not going to see big numbers. Always hire an editor. Don’t think that one’s optional, ever. And finally, ask for help if you need it. This isn’t something you really do alone.

What would you say to someone who wants to write their first book, but are feeling intimidated by the process?

Dive in and do it anyway. Maybe you’ll finish that fist one, maybe you won’t, but you definitely won’t if you don’t start. Push yourself to do more and make sure you sit down and get something done, even on the days when you’re not feeling it. Inspiration can’t strike those who don’t show up. Find the process for writing that works for you. A lot of people say a lot of things about how you should write, but really they’re saying what works for them. If something resonates with you, try it, but if it doesn’t work, throw that method away and try something else. Finally, keep at it. Don’t give up. Remember how much you love the story and that will carry you through even the rough days.

Thanks again for stopping by, and best of luck on your
new novel, Possession, which is the sequel to Bound. Will
there be any more titles in this series?

One more, as the Mirrors of Bershan is a trilogy. I can’t give a firm date yet, but I’m hoping to have The Nine, which is the final volume, out in early February of next year. Beyond that, there are a couple of things I’ve written in this world that aren’t part of the trilogy. I have a short story about Keari that I’m mulling publishing, and a novella about Faylanna’s mentor, Ganson, that will be coming out December 10th, 2013. Who knows if there will be anything else
in this world after that. Maybe, if there’s a story to tell.

You can check out my review of Bound here.  If you haven’t
picked it up yet, I highly recommend you do, so you are all set to read Possession when it comes out on September 10th.

Julie is offering a generous giveaway to celebrate the release of Possession. Three lucky winners will receive signed copies of both of her books! Click here to enter!

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